The Roma Sevens will not only be an important marker for players to prove their fitness for inclusion in the Springbok Sevens training group for the Olympic Games, but will also cast an eye on the next generation of Blitzboks.
The SA Rugby Sevens Academy team arrived in Italy on Tuesday to play in the tournament at the Acqua Acetosa Stadium in Rome on Friday and Saturday and according to coach Marius Schoeman, will provide important clues with Rio 2016 in mind.
“We have a number of objectives in this tournament and I am excited to see how it will work out for us,” said Schoeman, who will be joined in Rome by Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell, before the tournament starts.
“There are a number of contracted Blitzboks, such as Frankie Horne and Werner Kok, who are making comebacks after being injured for a long time and others such as Branco du Preez, Sandile Ncgobo and Siviwe Soyizwapi who are short of game time.“The likes of Lungelo Gosa, Dewald Human as well as new selections Luke van der Smit and Ryan Oosthuizen can prove that they are good enough to get contracts. A number of regulars will move on after Rio and will have to be replaced. So there is something in the tournament for every player,” Schoeman added.
The SA Rugby Sevens Academy has a solid record at the event and won the last three times they played in Rome.
“We have a number of tough opponents to deal with this time around, as other teams are also using this as an opportunity to fine-tune for the Olympics,” said Schoeman.
“We are obviously keen to see how Werner handles the tournament. He has last played in December, so we need to look after him well. The same applies to Frankie and we will manage their workload during the tournament.
“As important for me is the performances of Luke and Ryan. Luke showed great promise playing for UP-Tuks this year and Ryan was a member of our team that won gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games. We have some work to do this week and is determined to leave our mark and achieve our objectives,” Schoeman said.
The SA Rugby Sevens Academy team is:
1. Frankie Horne
2. Sandile Ngcobo (captain)
3. Luke van der Smit
4. Ryan Oosthuizen
5. Stephan Dippenaar
6. Branco du Preez
7. Donovan du Randt
8. Lungelo Gosa
9. Spamandla Ngcobo
10. Dewald Human
11. Werner Kok
12. Siviwe Soyizwapi